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Topic initiated on Thursday, October 19, 2006  -  11:20 AM Reply with quote
How Authoritative is a Fatwa?

I have a question regarding the issuing of a fatwa. Exactly how much authority does a fatwa have over individual Muslims? Does it become, absolute, unquestionable law? Or is it something up for debate among Muslims?

What if, for instance, a fatwa is issued that you (whoever is reading this) felt as an individual was against or contradictory to the teachings of the Koran? How would this problem be addressed?

Posted - Thursday, October 19, 2006  -  4:25 PM Reply with quote
Fatwas are a dime a dozen these days. I don't pay much attention to them. The holy Quran and the life of our prophet contains enough guidance to be successful in life and hereafter.

Posted - Thursday, October 19, 2006  -  9:32 PM Reply with quote
The term "Shari`ah" is generally used to refer to the laws of Islam. All Islamic teachings can be divided into two main parts: a) those that relate to the belief-structure of Islam, and b) those that relate to the laws of Islam. The former is known as Al-Hikmah (or the philosophy) of Islam and the latter is termed as Al-Shari`ah or Al-Kitaab (or the law) of Islam.

The basic and the primary source of the Islamic Shari`ah is the person of the Prophet of God. A prophet of God, according to the Muslim belief, is guided by revelation from God. He, in turn, delivers the revealed message to his followers. After the last prophet of God - Mohammad (pbuh) - the basic and the most accurate source of the guidance of God to mankind is the person of that last prophet. Thus, Mohammad (pbuh), according to the Islamic faith, is the source of all true guidance of God for all mankind.

The teachings of Mohammad (pbuh) have been transmitted to the world over time, without any adulteration or interpolation. The two basic sources of the teachings of Mohammad (pbuh) are the Qur'an - which is the revealed word of God, compiled, memorized and transmitted as a complete book - and the Sunnah - which constitutes the established Islamic practices, which were disseminated by the Prophet (pbuh) among all of his followers, without any exception. Both the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) have been transmitted to the present day Muslims all over the world through the continual - and uninterrupted - transmission of the whole generation of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) - and then every subsequent generation - to its next generation. Because of this verbal perpetuation - in the case of the Qur'an - and practical perpetuation - in the case of the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) - both these sources have always remained clear of any adulteration, interpolation, addition or deletion and have always maintained their original form - exactly as they were left by the Prophet (pbuh). Thus, for all practical purposes, the primary sources of the Shari`ah are a) The Qur'an, and b) The Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh).

Besides the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh), Another source of knowledge about the life and times of the Prophet (pbuh) as well as about the environment in which the Prophet and his companions lived is the narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh). These narratives, in contrast to the Qur'an and the Sunnah, have been transmitted to the later generations through oral narratives of a few people only. However, these narratives can sometimes provide invaluable information about the life and practices of the Prophet (pbuh), which, although, do not constitute the main corpus of Islam, yet can sometimes provide phenomenal guidance regarding the Prophet's way of following the teachings of Islam. Nevertheless, due to the inherent weaknesses of reliability and accuracy with regards to these narratives as well as the fact that the Prophet (pbuh) himself never directed his followers to record and compile these narratives, they are generally not considered among the prime sources of the Islamic Shari`ah. They constitute a supplementary source, which is only accepted to be reliable and accurate if 1) They have been transmitted to us through unbroken chains of reliable, honest and intelligent narrators; 2) nothing contained in them is contrary to the Qur'an, the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) or the established facts of nature and history; and 3) their content do not make any additions to the Islamic Shari`ah, as is contained in the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

The main topics discussed in the Shari`ah are:

Rules for worship;

Rules for social interactions;

Rules for economic interactions;

Rules for political interactions;

Rules for propagation of Islam;

Rules for Jihad (war);

Rules for punishments;

Rules for edibles; and

Muslim etiquette and Islamic symbols.

Rules regarding Oaths

The above explanation should provide a brief introduction to the basic sources and the contents of the Islamic Shari`ah, which, in my opinion should suffice as an answer to your question. However, in view of the general misconception and confusion about the two commonly used terms of "Shari`ah" and "Fiqh", it seems important to clarify the difference between these two terms which are, generally, used as synonymous.

Shari`ah, as the above explanation tries to establish, is purely the collection of the laws of the Qur'an and the Sunnah only. While "Fiqh", on the contrary, is the collection of the extensive application of the laws entailed in the Shari`ah on practical life situations of a time. In other words, the "Fiqh" of a particular Muslim jurist includes: a) the interpretation of the laws of the Shari`ah of that particular Muslim jurist; b) the opinions of that particular Muslim jurist regarding the issues not directly referred in the Shari`ah; and c) the applications of the interpretations and opinions of that particular Muslim jurist on practical life situations faced by him. It should also be noted that all three aspects included in "Fiqh" are subject not only to difference of opinions among the various Muslim scholars of a particular time, but also to a difference of opinion among Muslim scholars belonging to different periods of time.

Thus, if seen in the correct perspective, it shall be known that "Fiqh" includes an element of human interpretation of the Shari`ah, which, like other human efforts entails chances of mistakes and inconsistencies. Furthermore, it is important to note that a Muslim must, under all circumstances maintain his adherence to the Islamic Shari`ah, while affiliating oneself with any given particular juristic school (Fiqh) is not required of a Muslim

Posted - Thursday, October 19, 2006  -  9:39 PM Reply with quote
Authority of the Qur’an

The Qur’an is the fountainhead of religious authority. It is the balance (mizan) in whose scales everything must be weighed in order to ascertain the extent of truth found within that entity, and it is the criterion (Furqan) which like a sieve sifts out good from evil.

It is God Who has sent down the Book in truth that is the Mizan…….. (42:17)

Blessed is He Who sent down the Furqan to His servant that it may be an admonition to the people of the world. (25:1)

The Qur’an is the Final Testament of the Almighty revealed to mankind. It is the Only Divine Book which is today found in its original language and form, preserved word for word. As such it has been invested with the status of the guardian over all previous Divine Books.

And to you (O Prophet pbuh), we have revealed a Book with the truth confirming what the previous scriptures (say about it) and it stands as Guardian over them……… (5:48)

Thus the Qur'an remains the ultimate authority. If there is any Hadith or fatwah that contradicts the Qur'an then
The ruling of the Qur'an will take priority.

Posted - Sunday, October 22, 2006  -  7:23 AM Reply with quote
there were fatwas against Rushdie or cartoonists by some senior muftis.

What is the reason we dont find any instances that someone has ever tried to put these fatwa into act.

secondly ,whether mufti's duty gets over after putting his stamp over the fatwa copy or he also is responsible for bringing his words into action.

Posted - Saturday, October 28, 2006  -  5:56 AM Reply with quote
As far as I can remember the fatwah about Salmaan Rushdi came from the Imaam of Iran. I believe that since then it has been retracted.

The fact is that satanic verses was a literary work and not a historical work. As always the response from muslim clergy and nation as a whole aggravated and highlighted the issue significantly.

More recently we have had the fatwah from Osama bin laden against America.

My personal thoughts are and these are my personal views only. Firstly, individuals like Osmam bin laden cannot announce fatwah for Jihad, as it is against the regulations of Jihad. i.e Jihad can only be called by an Islamic state and under specific situations like persecution of muslims, which is not happening in America.

In the olden times if we had a unified single Islamic state and Caliph then perhaps one would assume that the caliph may consult a shura of muslim clergy and may announce a fatwah provided it was in accordance with the shariah we know.

In todays world when we have multiple muslim states, sects and no unified leader of sunni faith, a fatwah could be passed for a country or a sect by their head, but a universal fatwah on behalf of 1 billion muslims is not possible.

Shariah provides us with a hand full of regulations. In matters that fall in grey areas and in certain matters that have evolved since due to evolution of civilaziation we use Ijtahaad, Qazaa as individuals and sometimes the clergy will anounce fatwah for their followers and sects. As I understand ijtahaad is on individuals matters and fatwah may pertain to collective issues affecting people generally. I cannot see the regulations in Saudi Arabia applying in PK. The situation may be different in Iran or for that matter for Shiah muslims as they abide by the ruling of their imamas.

For example. Zakah, as discussed in the time of Prophet Mohammad pbuh states the regulation about camel, sheep, cattle but there is no mention about hens or horses. We have to use ijtahaad and may rely on clergy of our faith to guide us. We may have a difference of view in different sects.
Fatwah may however apply to a particular society or sect by their reputed clergy on a specific issue but in this age in sunni muslims is unlikely to be universal.

What will be the authencity of a fatwah to take someone 's life in a non muslim world. My thougts are that firstly our religion states that we must abide by the regulations of the country we live in, provided we have no clash with Allah's commandments.i.e alcohol is legal in non muslim country but is against our religious belief.

Secondly a fatwah would only be applicable in a muslim ruled country and not all over the non muslim world.

Thirdly it must be in accordance with the shariah. To kill someone without trial for such an act I am not sure will be in accordance with shariah.

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